Nick Valentine is a busy guy; running a big business, dealing with the death of his wife–and his problematic father-in-law–and raising the baby she left behind! When he comes back from an overseas trip, he discovers that the nanny had left, and his sister had hired a nurse to replace her, one Candace Morrisson, and she’s…gorgeous. But there’s something going on here…
What Candace doesn’t understand, right up front, is why Nick doesn’t recognize her name, or know who she is! She was a surrogate parent all those months, and never met him, and Jilly, his wife, gave the impression that he was a super-busy executive who really did not care about his wife or child.
But we learn very quickly that Nick knew nothing of a surrogate; he’s certain that Jilly is the mother of baby Jennie, and he’s angry that this madwoman has come around, insinuated herself into his home, and is claiming to be the biological mother of the baby. Never mind that he’s been relatively certain for months that the baby isn’t his, but that Jilly had a lover!
I almost tagged this one in the Wealth and Fame genre, but that didn’t really fit; sure, Nick has a-plenty of money, he’s a successful businessman and all, but despite the continuity title, there’s no billions involved here, just an ordinary man who’s made it to the top through a lot of hard work and sacrifice. He has been manipulated and misled a lot, and when that all comes to light, it’s really hard not to feel sorry for the guy. He was a bit of a jerk early on, when he thought that Candace was crazy, but as the house of cards around him comes crashing down, thanks to his father-in-law, and he starts seeing the truth…well, things get better, in a big hurry.
Typical for stories where there’s a baby or small child involved, the characters’ emotions get rather tangled. Nick’s in particular are complicated, because he doesn’t think that little Jennie is, in fact, his, but is Jilly’s, by someone else…turns out, it’s not his late wife’s baby at all, but Candace’s…and his.
I found this story very atypical of the line it’s in; if it were not set in New Zealand, it’d almost make a good Harlequin American Romance story, if the intimate moments were toned down to conform to that line. It takes a little while for this one to “heat up,” but there’s a nice story in here, as you see Nick realize how badly he’s been treated. He knew all along that his marriage to Jilly was not good, but the depths of her deception, and those of her father, once they are made clear to him, enable him to get his life back where he wants it.
Neither of our protagonists really know the full extent of what is going on around them, until it is almost too late for them. Once they opened up to each other, and each told what they had seen from their own perspective, they both allowed themselves to love, and it’s a beautiful thing. There are a handful of good supporting characters, as well, including Jilly’s father, who makes a dandy sort-of villain. (sort-of? Well, yes. I could tell you more, but I don’t want to give this one away!) Baby Jennie, too, makes a nice foil for our protagonists.
The Boss’s Baby Affair is definitely a good read, nice and easy to get through, with some moderate heat, and an ending that’ll make you smile.